In 1872, one of the most important national acts was created by United States President, Ulysses S. Grant — the establishment of the first US national park. Can you guess which one it was? If you guessed Yellowstone National Park – you’re correct! Today, travelers and outdoor enthusiasts can visit over 4,000 national parks across the globe. These national treasures are celebrated annually during the month of April to commemorate the history and culture surrounding our favorite outdoor locations.
Antelope Canyon by Tom Wagner Photography.
The National Park Service (NPS) recorded that in 2019 over 327 million people visited USA’s national parks. While numerous parks are temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, you can still celebrate national park week this year by learning more about each of the parks, their history, and what makes them so crucial to our environment. A great place to start? With the 10 oldest national parks in the U.S. Check them out below:
Oldest U.S. National Parks:
1. Yellowstone National Park – Wyoming, Idaho, Montana – March 1, 1872
Located between three states, Yellowstone National Park was the first U.S. national park. Yellowstone welcomes about 4.2 million visitors a year. Some of the main attractions in the park are the geysers, including the one pictured here, “Old Faithful.” Besides Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park is also known for it’s amazing fauna such as bears, wolves, and deer.
Yellowstone will open and welcome visitors to several areas of the park on June 1, 2020.
2. Sequoia National Park – California, September 25, 1890
Known for having the world’s largest living things, Sequoia National Park is the second oldest national park in the U.S. Filled with gigantic Sequoia trees, this park is the perfect place to explore nature. The trees can grow anywhere between 250 to 275 feet tall, thus making them some of the tallest trees on the planet.
Sequoia and Kings National Parks will open and welcome visitors to several areas of the park on June 4, 2020.
3. Yosemite National Park – California, October 1st, 1890
While Yellowstone is the official first national park, the idea originally came from President Abraham Lincoln when he signed the Yosemite Land Grant in 1864. Located in the Sierra Mountains in California, Yosemite is home to one of the tallest waterfalls on Earth. It is also home to over 400 species including the rare red fox.
Yosemite will remain closed until further notice, by the NPS.
4. Mount Rainier National Park – Washington, March 2nd, 1899
From the colorful wildflowers that bloom each spring to the epic waterfalls that flow all summer long, Mount Rainer National Park is a Washington State treasure. The peak is the fifth tallest in the US and has over 130 trails to explore.
Mount Rainier will open and welcome visitors to several areas of the park on June 4, 2020.
5. Crater Lake National Park – Oregon, May 22nd, 1902
Found in south-central Oregon, Crater Lake is the fifth oldest national park in the US. Most famous for its crystal blue waters, the park also features the deepest lake in the United States due to the collapse of a volcano almost 8,000 years ago.
Crater Lake will stay temporarily closed until further notice.
6. Wind Cave National Park– South Dakota, January 9th, 1903
Wind Cave is known as one of the longest caves in the world with over 149 miles of passageways. It was also the first cave system in the US to be designated as a national park. The cave is also known for its box work and frostwork formations inside the passageways.
Wind Cave will begin opening several parts of the park in June 2020.
7. Mesa Verde National Park – Colorado, June 29th, 1906
Located in southwest Colorado, Mesa Verde National Park is the largest archeological preserve with over 600 cliff dwellings. Its name which translates to “green table” is a reflection of the vast greenery that covers thousands of acres.
Mesa Verde opens its park to visitors on May 24, 2020. The welcoming will happen in phases over time.
8. Glacier National Park – Montana, May 11th, 1910
Found in the northwest corner of Montana, Glacier National Park is the eighth oldest in the U.S. The entire park is over one million acres. In total, the park has 75 named mountains, 762 lakes, 25 named glaciers, and close to 750 miles of hiking trails alone.
Glacier will start welcoming visitors for recreational access on June 8, 2020. The park will open in phases.
9. Rocky Mountain National Park – Colorado, January 26th, 1915
The ninth oldest U.S. national park is Rocky Mountain. While the park was founded in 1915, the mountain range is actually over 76 million years old. The high peaks and rugged landscape make the perfect backdrop for the city of Denver, which is just a short drive away.
Rocky Mountain will begin opening several areas in the park on June 4, 2020. All visitors must obtain a permit to visit.
10. Haleakala National Park – Hawaii, August 1st, 1916
Haleakala National Park is located on the Hawaiian Island, Maui. While the park itself is over 33,000 acres, the park’s main feature is its massive 7-mile wide volcanic crater.
Haleakala will open and begin welcoming visitors to several areas in the park on May 27, 2020.
While we encourage you to stay home this week and enjoy these national parks from afar you can still visit by taking virtual tours and experiences at home.
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CuddlyNest provides all accommodations to all travelers at an unbeatable price. This blog post is the sixth post in a series by the CuddlyNest team, on the Coronavirus Outbreak. To see more information about our policies please visit our response page.